"a discipline, which tries to explain political activities across state boundaries".
Scope of International Relations
It is known by now that international relations encompass a myriad of discipline. Attempts to structure and intellectualize it have often been thematically and analytically confined to boundaries determined by data.
The core concepts of international relations are International Organization, International Law, Foreign Policy, International Conflict, International Economic Relations and Military Thought and Strategy.
International/Regional Security, Strategic Studies, International Political Economy, Conflict/War and Peace Studies, Globalization, International Regimes.
Moreover it covers , state sovereignty, ecological sustainability, nuclear proliferation, nationalism, economic development, terrorism, organized crime, human security, foreign interventionism and human rights.
These have been grounded in various schools of thought (or traditions) notably Realism and Idealism.
International relations are thus concerned with every form of interaction between and amongst nations. Such interactions can also occur between corporation and social groups. Examples are interactions between member states of the OPEC or the International Human Rights Commissions. The moment such interactions cross a state boundary it is of interest to the study of International Relations. International relations recognize and respond to the fact that the foreign policy goals that nations pursue can be a matter of permanent consequences to some or all of the others.
International Relations Defined:
Since its inception, international relations has been defined in many ways. Writers differ greatly upon the definition of the subject. It appears quite natural, as Stanley Hoffman says, "how could one agree once and for all upon the definition of a field whose scope is in constant flux, indeed, a field whose fluctuation is one of its principal characteristics". As such, international relations cannot be defined in any generally acceptable way. Nature and Scope of International Relations:
(a) Conflict as the essential element of relations:
Since politics is a necessary element of relations, for an understanding of the nature and scope of international relations, a brief discussion of the term "politics" is necessary. Everything in politics, whether domestic or international, flows from the fact that people have needs and wants. The efforts to satisfy needs and wants bring people into contact with one another. This contact leads to the formation of groups. But the needs and wants of various groups are bound to differ, though the need and wants of the members of one group are normally supposed to be common. Groups do certain actions and follow certain relations in order to satisfy the needs and wants of their members. Politics, thus, arises from the very existence of groups and disagreement among them and from the efforts of men to create relationships under which their needs and wants can be fulfilled to the maximum possible extent. Thus there are three important characteristics of relations; the existence of groups, disagreement between groups and the efforts of some to influence or control the actions of others. Relations, then, is a phenomenon of groups, disagreement, and group action. Disagreement, however, should not be total so as to exclude every possibility of co-operation, Relations cannot exist in a state of complete disagreement as it cannot exist in a state of complete agreement. Relationships between groups should be somewhere between the two. The purpose of a group trying to influence or control the actions and policies of other group or groups is to alter this type of relationship in its own favour. That is why, Sheldon Volin has described politics as the process of our continuous efforts to establish such relationships...